Iowa men’s basketball team overcomes 24 turnovers to defeat Cincinnati 77-70 at the United Center in Chicago
By Pat Harty
Nobody ever said life on the court without Jordan Bohannon would be easy for the Iowa men’s basketball team, and it certainly wasn’t against Cincinnati on Saturday.
The Hawkeyes committed a season-high 24 turnovers, but still somehow managed to prevail 77-70 at the United Center in Chicago.
One of the biggest reasons Iowa hung on to win despite committing an astonishing number of turnovers was its 15-point advantage from 3-point range.
Iowa made 11-of-24 3-point baskets, while Cincinnati only converted on 6-of-24 attempts from 3-point range.
Graduate transfer guard Bakari Evelyn played his best game as a Hawkeye, and it couldn’t have come at a better time with Bohannon gone for the season after having hip surgery on Thursday.
Evelyn made a key basket that gave Iowa a 70-66 lead late in the second half and finished with a season-high 15 points. The Detroit native also grabbed seven reounds and had four assists.
Evelyn was among four Iowa players who scored in double figures, led by redshirt guard C.J. Fredrick with 21 points.
“Those two guys were special tonight,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said of Fredrick and Evelyn on the Big Ten Network post-game interview.
Fredrick had extra motivation to play well on Saturday, considering he is from Cincinnati, but wasn’t offered a scholarship by the Bearcats.
“Obviously, it’s a big game for him being from Cincinnati, Ohio and he just made big shot after big shot,” Fran McCaffery said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the guys.
Junior center Luka Garza was held to just 12 points, which is 10 below his Big Ten-leading 22.4 per-game average. But Garza still finished with his seventh double-double on the season by grabbing 13 rebounds.
Iowa played its second game this season without Bohannon, and its first since the All-Big Ten point guard announced earlier this week that he would shut it down after having played in 10 games in order to have hip surgery and be eligible for a medical redshirt.
And while Iowa’s performance was far from being a masterpiece, especially considering all the turnovers, it still was a positive first step without Bohannon because it was a victory.
The Hawkeyes blew a double-digit lead in the second half, but still made enough plays down the stretch on both ends of the court to prevail.
At one point in the second half, Fran McCaffery became so frustrated with his team's inability to protect the basketball that he yelled at his players to "wake up."
“That’s hard to do,” Fran McCaffery said. “We were seemingly in control of the game and they make a hellacious run at us. We’re making uncharacteristic turnovers. We’re not a mistake team. We’re not a turnover team.
“But there was still plenty of time to get it corrected. We had some individuals really step up, I thought. And we got the stops we needed because you’ve got to do it at both ends.”
Saturday’s game, which didn’t start until almost 8:30 p.m., was a rematch of last season’s game in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, which Iowa won 77-72 over the Bearcats.
Iowa improved to 9-3 overall, while Cincinnati fell to 7-5 under first-year head coach John Brannen.
Iowa created some cushion with an 8-0 scoring run late in the first half, which ended with the Hawkeyes leading 39-31 despite having committed 10 turnovers.
Freshman point guard Joe Toussaint made his first career start for Iowa on Saturday, but spent most of the first half on the bench as he clearly was struggling to handle the basketball. He committed three turnovers in just three minutes of action and struggled to keep his footing.
“Joe Toussaint must have had the wrong pair of shoes on because the first three times he drove, he fell and then he got in foul trouble,” McCaffery said. “So I go to Bakari and he was exactly what I thought he would be, rock-solid. He’s smart. He makes shots. He makes plays. He can play, one two and three. I love the kid.”
Iowa made 7-of-16 threes in the first half, including two early treys by graduate transfer guard Bakari Evelyn.
The Detroit native then got the start in the second half over Toussaint as a reward.
Iowa picked up in the second half where it left off in the first half, expanding its lead to 13 points at 48-35 barely two minutes into the half.